Film Review: ‘End of Days’ (1999)

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Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney and Kevin Pollak.
Director: Peter Hyams
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“You’re a fucking choir boy compared to me! A CHOIR BOY!”

Having fought against the Predator, the T1000 Terminator, and even Batman… Where does Arnie go next? F*ck it, have him fight THE DEVIL*.

*Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly Arnie fighting a red-skinned, half-goat Devil, but instead, Gabriel Byrne wearing all-black.

As Jericho Cane, Arnie – having used to portraying somewhat elite law/military figures – is reduced to encapsulating the widowed former cop. Now working in private security, alongside a subtly comedic Kevin Pollak, Jericho must work off the books in order to protect Christine York (Robin Tunney) from Satan himself, as she is the “chosen one”. Jericho finds himself wound up in this biblical fiasco when the client in which he is protecting (surprise, it’s Gabriel Byrne) is the target of a semi-homeless religious assassin…with no tongue. In this ordeal early on, a devilish prophecy is unearthed, thus leading to Jericho and Bobby (Pollak) on their quest to find the girl before it’s too late.

When Jericho finally crosses paths with Christine York (“Christ in New York”…), he intervenes in an assassination attempt made by religious rivals, provoking a more radical method in preventing Satan gaining his wife for the new millennium. Jericho, on the other hand, opts to take Christine to a church operated by Rod Steiger of all people. Jericho wants answers, Christine wants to live a life without Miriam Margolyes as her adoptive mother, and Satan wants to hurry things up before midnight. End of Days is, perhaps, the greatest game of cat and mouse.

End of Days brought quite the contrast for Schwarzenegger in his career. Then 50, past his peak, Arnold looks almost unrecognisable from his career highs and physical perfections presented between Predator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day at the turn of the decade. Furthermore, the mental state of his character – depressed, washed up and suicidal – is completely out of type too. This is a vulnerable Schwarzenegger. Damaged by the past, he lives a dark life trying to protect others. Though, as one would naturally expect, convention strikes in the form of Schwarzenegger providing unbelievably brilliant one-liners, physicality and brute force to the role when necessary. In End of Days, do we see redemption for Jericho, or redemption for Schwarzenegger after Batman & Robin?

Under Peter Hyams – the director of both Timecop and Sudden Death – one of End of Days‘ few issues is its trident unbalance of being an action film, horror film, and religious film. Ultimately, End of Days is just an action film placing Schwarzenegger vs. Satan as the main event. Gabriel Byrne’s performance as Satan, whilst perfectly creepy and sinister, is cheap due to its perverse nature. Of course, Satan absolutely has to be a sex pest. However, in its depiction of religion and prophecies, End of Days – with maybe an added 30-40 minutes of such content- could have been the biblical epic of the century. Instead, the end result is an unintentionally hilarious high concept Schwarzenegger film, which isn’t a bad thing at the end of the day, or at the end of days…

3.5 Stars


For John.

This article’s featured image: By Source, Universal Pictures, Fair Use

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